Twentysomething is a short film directed by Avital Siegel that focuses on the lack of structure in a young woman’s life. The film’s title becomes the main theme of the story as well, for being twenty something is a feeling of confusion that few are forgiving enough to understand and that everyone feels regardless. This story is full of universal moments and that is what makes it a film worth watching and perhaps even learning from.
The beginning of the film introduces a monologue that becomes a thread for the film. “Are your thoughts stars that you can’t fathom into constellations?” It’s hinting at the disorganized condition of our thoughts. We think about one thing and then our minds drift to another thought. At least in my case, there is very little structure to the way I think. I tend to shift from one thing to another quite frequently and though it is fun and can bring forth great ideas, it also makes it difficult for me to actually get stuff done.
The shot of the gate with the lights kind of blurred is really interesting when tied to these words on thought process. It goes with the ambiguity of our thoughts because the lights are not entirely distinct in the scene either. “Have you ever felt lost, unsure of your purpose?” I like that there are cars passing at night as the narrator recites these words. Visually, it expresses that feeling of being on a journey and chasing after something, but because it’s night sometimes you’re not so sure what you’re chasing after. All you feel is the adrenaline and the freedom of the chase.
The film makes a clear statement on perception. People gossip everywhere on a daily basis and no one is exempt from criticism. It doesn’t matter if we’re going through a confusing time and we just need some space to figure it out. The world will not be kind and understanding to that type of selfishness. It demands that you keep going at warp speed and blend with everyone else. The main character’s (Sam’s) actions, which are specific to her and to what she needs, are criticized by her friends. They don’t care about her inner conflictions. All they see is failure and perhaps laziness. To them, her decision to not just do what all of them are doing is an enigma and it made me realize how true this feeling of entitlement is in the world. We expect people to be just like us and to be going through the same thing and handle it the same way. Yet, that isn’t how the world works. Everyone has their own issues and their own ways of getting through it. Some complain more than other. Some block out the pain. Some release the pain. There is no right or wrong way. There is only dealing with it whichever way we choose.
As she listens in on their conversation, one of the characters says “She just needs time to figure out what she wants to be” and another character says “That just doesn’t seem very fair to me.” I thought that piece of dialogue was ironic because even when someone is trying to take some time to figure out themselves, the world can be quite unforgiving. It’s viewed negatively to be selfish and put yourself first. The question is why? Why does making a decision for our own lives affect other people so much? Why does it disturb the rest of the world to know that we are working on ourselves and that we have to be individuals first before we can participate in our society?
Later on in the film, Sam asks her boyfriend if he remembers the minute he turned 20. She says “Like one minute you’re a teenager and then you’re not and everyone expects you to be a grown up.” I completely related to this scene because it’s something I’ve thought and talked about before. One moment you’re a child and the next, the world demands you be an adult that will sacrifice your time and resources for it.
The world can’t deal with ambiguity for too long. The majority always wants to simplify. If there isn’t a category, some logic, or a plan for life then most people view it as chaos. It makes them panicked. I related to this film greatly as someone who is also in this strange age where we’re trying to get our lives together, but where life has never seemed more confusing. Also, I related in the sense that I’m also trying to take my time and enjoy my life, but the world won’t let me. It won’t let me be an artist. It won’t let me create when the main demand is money.
The way that her friend says “Oh so you want to be a history professor. Well, that’s good.” It comes off pretty empty like she obviously is throwing judgment at Sam. Sam says “Well there are just so many things I can do.” Her friend immediately replies “Guess you better figure it out quick.” There is this immense, unsaturated need to speed life and to treat it as something that needs to be defined into just one type of thing. Her friend didn’t really say it to be mean, but it just shows how people can think differently when it comes to the way they treat their lives. There are people that are always in a rush, who think very practically. There is nothing wrong with that and the vast majority usually falls into this category. It’s how things get done on time. Then, there are the people who take their time to understand and decide exactly what they want to do with their lives. They aren’t allowing the world to push them into one field or category. They’re taking control and living the life they want. Though it may seem like they’re lost and wandering, I truly think they’re onto something great because life is experienced in the greatest capacity when we do take our time. When we live in the moment and focus on the details, we get the fullest life we could have.
Even when her parents are celebrating her birthday at Medieval Times, they’re already planning what Sam will do next. They’ve decided she is going back to school.
“Look I don’t mean to be mean or anything, but you need to figure your shit out at some point.” Her boyfriend isn’t being mean when he says that either. He is being practical and rational and he is trying to look out for her. The problem is that the rest of the world doesn’t always understand the significance of just being yourself and pacing yourself. Doing the things that are important to you in the steady amount of time that you need is monumental to self-growth and happiness and ultimately sanity as well.
“I just need more time.” “You have more time than any of us. You’re not doing anything.” I love that exchange of dialogue because I feel the exact same way right now in my life. I know I’m sort of taking my time and doing the things I want to do. To me it makes sense and I am living authentically. To the people around me, it can sometimes come across as being lazy, neglectful or not being proactive enough. That just isn’t the truth. I’m not scheduling my life to please other people. I’m choosing to live the way I want and for it, the world is annoyed. That is the insufferable feeling that is conveyed in this film with Sam and the way the people in her life are reacting to her decision to take her time.
The shot of Sam diving into the water is beautiful. It’s in slow motion and it looks like this piece of detailed artwork. It’s like when she does that, the rest of the world just gets shut out and she can finally take her time under water. The focus on her legs and then her face is quite interesting. It shows how she is enjoying the moment and feeling every bit of it.
“The minds teach that stars burn until they explode. They shine until that very moment. We all must find our balance before we too burn out.” I love this quote especially because it’s true of where I am right now and of everyone. As a creative person, sometimes the creativity is all I am and that can be intense and chaotic for my life. The pressure I put on myself is enough to send me to the grave. Lately, I’ve been noticing that a little structure goes a long way. I can still be me and have all the creative things that make me who I am. I can pursue them, but I can also feel a lot more at ease by maintaining a healthy balance. I can rely on some logic every once in a while. I can get more organized and set deadlines. I can be practical and hear some cynicism without becoming entirely cynical myself.
Writer and Director: Avital Siegel
Producer: Evan Metzold
Director of Photography: Carlos Flores Espinoza
Composer: Aled Roberts
Production Designer: Stella Etundi
Editor: Carlos Flores Espinoza